How does online college work? | Guide & Explanation

Online college offers an attractive alternative to a physical college experience. Common misconceptions about online degrees portray virtual institutions as ersatz degree mills, but in reality, they can provide as much knowledge and gravity as a traditional in-person degree. However, the flow of the online learning experience can be a mystical realm. There’s no need to fear though – Canstar Blue will clear up all the confusion about how online courses work in this guide, so if you’re wondering what online college entails, read on to find out all about it. what you need to know.

How does online university differ from traditional university?

The main difference between online college and traditional college is where you learn, as the entire college experience is digital. This means that classrooms, tutorials, lectures, group work, libraries and even assessments will take place online. This learning environment also means that in some cases there is no set schedule for your tutorials or lectures, as you will “attend” classes when it is convenient for you. Important elements such as learning content and assessment requirements remain the same, which means that your degree will be almost identical to that obtained at a traditional university.

The main differences between online university and traditional university are:

  • Lectures and tutorials will take the form of recorded and live videos.
  • The readings, lessons and assessment will be distributed through an online portal.
  • Exams will be proctored, which means they are timed, proctored and reviewed at a later date.
  • Students submit an assessment through the university’s website or through their student portal.
  • The course is accessible from anywhere, including mobile devices.
  • Students have a loosely structured schedule, which means there will be deadlines, but it’s up to you when you take classes and attend lectures.
  • The semester can follow the regular university calendar or can be divided into smaller learning units.

If you choose to undertake a hybrid degree, some of your courses will be delivered in person and some online, which is not that different from the number of university students completing their studies today.

How do online courses work?

Online study uses sophisticated technology to provide students with a highly usable and accessible virtual classroom. This means that every student should have access to a device capable of supporting participation in course content, as well as the ability to work on the assessment. Before you begin your study, you will typically attend an orientation where you will learn how to use and navigate your online resources and tools. The most important online resource is your student portal, which serves as your access point for your courses, assessments and group work. Online universities also emphasize discussions and participation. Consistent communication is key, and the 24/7 nature of an online degree provides plenty of opportunities to talk to your professor and other students. Additionally, there may be opportunities to pursue field experiences throughout the duration of your course, which would take you offline and into contact with other students or experts in your field of study.

What do you need to study online?

Studying online is a flexible and easy way to study, but there are some supplies you just can’t live without. Absolute essentials include access to a computer, a reliable internet connection, a web camera, headphones, office software skills, and a quiet place to study. Less practical requirements are the ability to stay on task, work unsupervised, network on your own, build relationships with staff, and manage time well. It’s important to be honest with yourself about your commitment to online study and to structure your learning, in order to get the most out of your online course. However, like physical universities, you will be able to get in touch with the staff if you are having difficulty, so be sure to reach out if you have any questions or need someone to speak to.

Read more: What are the advantages and disadvantages of online learning?

How to prepare for the online study?

Mom studies at home with a child

To succeed in an online university, it is important to be prepared. Much of this preparation will be similar to that required at a traditional university, such as reading the courses, getting to know your professors, buying the readings, and understanding your schedule. However, some preparations are unique to online learning.

To get the most out of your online training, you should:

  • Set up a comfortable and quiet learning space. Remember that you will be in this space for the duration of your degree, so it is important that it is conducive to concentration and productivity.
  • Understand your degree expectations; know when to participate and when to submit a review.
  • Establish a consistent routine of study and breaks to ensure you don’t waste time or spend every minute in front of the computer.
  • Organize your year according to the university calendar.
  • Set regular, achievable goals to help you stay on track.
  • Communicate frequently with your cohort and grow an online community of students and faculty.
  • Leverage your ability to go back and review content to ensure you never miss important information.

Studying online is an adaptable and useful way to get the degree you want, on your terms. Now that you know how online college works and what you’ll need, you can confidently choose the right online degree. But you do not know in which university to study? Check out our ratings for the top rated universities in Australia.

Photo credit: fizkes/, Ilona Titova/

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